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The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Essay

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The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock as rapacious and cruel is in the
traditional style of an Elizabethan villain. A modern audience could
argue that he has also humanised Shylock, and therefore gained some
sympathy for his actions.

From your reading of the “Merchant of Venice” examine these diverse
reactions to the complex characterisation of Shylock.

Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock is unconditionally evil, and a
stereo-typical villain. Studying the “Merchant of Venice” has made me
realise that Shakespeare has not only written for an Elizabethan
audience when writing the play, but written in a style which a modern
audience would find interesting as well, dealing with issues such as
prejudice, racism and religion. The message put across by these
topics would get different reactions within the two contrasting
era’s. A modern audience would have different views concerning
prejudice, racism and religion, because we are now more aware of what
such issues can cause and we are a multi-ethnic society. An
Elizabethan audience would be more intolerant when compared to a
contemporary audience as the viewers were very much anti-semitic. In
my view I feel that an Elizabethan audience would be biased because
they are all Christians, therefore making them against Shylock for the
religion he is associated with (Judaism), hence the reason this
certain congregation would take Antonio’s side. As a modern viewer
however my sympathy for Shylock increases throughout the play, as he
is separated from the rest of the human race just because he has
different beliefs.

Shylock has a series of...


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From analysing the play it has come apparent that Antonio and Shylock
are two totally opposite strong characters. Shylock seeks revenge for
a number of different reasons one of which being culture. ‘He hates
our sacred nation’ suggests that Shylock has acted on behalf of his
Jewish nation and not just upon the personal grudge between himself
and Antonio.

Shakespeare has written Shylocks character in order to impress two
different eras, which I feel he succeeds in. He raises a series of
different issues which enable audience to express there contrasting
views. He creates Shylock in such a way he is portrayed as an
Elizabethan scoundrel but a modern case to pity. I believe it is the
racism and prejudice Shylock undergoes which adds to the drama of the
play and creates more sympathy for his character.





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